May 21, 2024


Unlimited Technology

Spain wrestles with fresh wave of coronavirus as tourists return

malaga - Getty
malaga – Getty

Holiday resorts across Spain are seeing coronavirus cases rise again following the return of British tourists, with Tui, Europe’s largest tour operator, warning that it could cancel holiday packages if the situation worsens.

Tui has said that it will not take customers on holiday if it cannot guarantee their safety, or if the Spanish government reimposes a 14-day quarantine for UK arrivals.

A spokesperson said: “As per our TUI Holiday Promise, we won’t take customers on holiday if we know they’re required to quarantine on arrival or on their return home. We’re closely monitoring Government advice and should this change, we’ll adapt our holiday programme and proactively contact all impacted customers to discuss their options.”

The announcement follows a sharp increase in new infections along the Costa del Sol, with Marbella reporting its first case in 11 days while 23 people have contracted the virus in Malaga in the last 48 hours. The city of Almeria has also seen a spike in infections, only weeks after Spain reopened its borders with the UK.

Health officials in Lanzarote are also on high alert after a British holidaymaker tested positive while staying at a hotel on the island, while fears of a second lockdown in Barcelona arose after residents were asked to leave their homes only for essential trips.

The Spanish government has insisted that the infection rate is under control amid fears that other European countries could close borders if the number of cases continues to rise.

The UK is set to review its list of travel corridors on Monday, while France has refused to rule out the possibility of halting travel to and from Spain in order to prevent a second outbreak.

Follow the latest news below.

Table of Contents

04:18 PM

Today’s biggest stories

Here’s a reminder of the day’s main headlines:

  • Spain wrestles with fresh wave of coronavirus infections as tourists return 

  • British Airways apologises after demanding pointless coronavirus tests from passengers 

  • Tourists risk being refused entry into Greece after tracking code delays 

  • Lack of British holidaymakers leaves Algarve struggling for survival

  • Scottish tourist board spends £3 million to lure English visitors 

  • British Airways launches new flight route to Jamaica from Gatwick 

Scroll down for more travel news.

04:00 PM

British Airways apologises after demanding pointless coronavirus tests from passengers

British Airways has issued an apology for demanding that passengers travelling to Iceland obtain a private Covid-19 test before departure to the country, reports Emma Cooke.

These tests were entirely pointless as Icelandic authorities are currently not accepting any test results from third parties, and testing all arrivals themselves. 

The UK-based test required before boarding cost around £150 – visitors then found themselves having to pay a further £63 for another test on arrival on the island, or £52 if they had booked the Icelandic test in advance. 

Read the full story.

03:51 PM

UK hotel spas continue to reopen, but many are taking a different approach 

Country house hotel Chewton Glen was the first hotel in the UK to get a spa more than 30 years ago, and this Saturday it will reopen after a full refurbishment. Think Grecian-inspired columns, a serene indoor pool and hydrotherapy baths. Like many other UK hotel spas, Chewton Glen has had to adapt its protocols in light of coronavirus. 

For this reason, they have dramatically reduced their menus in favour of bespoke experiences, where guests can design their own facial (or massage) and the therapist will implement it (45 minutes;£90). Sister hotels The Lygon Arms and Cliveden House will take the same approach.

Chewton Glen
Chewton Glen

Other new measures seen in UK hotels include a facial workshop at Grantley Hall in North Yorkshire. This is a full 60-minute prescriptive facial, self-applied under the guidance of the therapist, followed by an Ila LED mask for 20 minutes during which time a foot and leg massage is performed (£90; from August 1).  

Find out more about the spa treatments you can (and can’t) have right now.

03:40 PM

Investors eye up British hotels as industry recovers from lockdown

Buyers are circling the UK’s stricken hospitality sector, waiting to snap up hotels left struggling by the impact of the pandemic.

Property consultants Christie & Co have reported an 84 per cent increase in buyer enquiries since April 27, when some lockdown measures were lifted.

While many hotels have reported strong bookings since they were given the green light to reopen on July 4, the long-term effects of the coronavirus on travel trends could see many owners unable to recuperate their losses, leaving them open to offers from wealthy buyers and investors.

Carine Bonnejean, managing director of hotels at Christie & Co, said: “International travel and business demand, most particularly MICE, will take time to recover and we do not anticipate the market to return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2022, at the earliest. Unfortunately, over-rented or over-leveraged hotels may not be able to wait that long and we have already seen a few casualties.”

03:13 PM

London-Frankfurt flights to resume in September

Lufthansa will reinstate twice-daily flights between London City Airport and Frankfurt from September 7.

London City Airport’s Head of Aviation, Anne Doyere, hailed the announcement as “a positive sign for the UK’s and Europe’s economic recovery, restoring a very popular connection between two of the world’s most important financial centres.”

She added: “We have already seen demand from passengers to travel, especially for a summer holiday after months of lockdown. As restrictions continue to ease, with businesses increasing activity and more people getting back to work, we anticipate demand for business travel on routes such as this will grow as we head into the autumn.”

03:01 PM

A noble quest

Local authorities on the Swedish island of Gotland have recruited a band of armoured knights to help enforce social distancing.

The valiant warriors, recruit
ed from a local reenactment society, have been tasked with patrolling tourist hotspots on horseback, with flapping banners declaring important missives such as “keep your distance”, “stay at home if you have symptoms” and “wash your hands often”.

Asked whether they would charge down villainous transgressors, member of the company Dennis Norrthon responded: “No, we will just talk to people.”

sweden knights - Getty
sweden knights – Getty

02:39 PM

Cotswolds struggles to cope without influx of international tourists

Some residents are enjoying the peace and quiet, but the lack of Chinese and American tourists visiting the Cotwolds is proving disastrous for many local businesses, says Lottie Gross.

Domestic tourism is helping the local hotels get back on track after four months’ closure, but for some tour operators, restaurateurs and shopkeepers, the hard times are far from over.

Read the full report.

cotswolds - Getty
cotswolds – Getty

02:15 PM

Comment: These absurd Covid-19 rules have actually made airports more civilised

Since lockdown, our airports have become much cleaner, more efficient, and less crowded – but there are certain drawbacks, says Annabel Fenwick-Elliott.

I had my suspicions, as I made my way to London Heathrow last week for the first time in nearly six months, that the airport experience would be improved, not worsened, as a result of the pandemic. I was largely right.

For all the (not unwarranted) whinging about masks, there are major elements to travel that have benefited from these new coronavirus measures, whether or not you happen to consider them nonsense or necessary. Less people, spaced further apart being an obvious plus in any airport situation.

I noted down a number of observations as I meandered through the strange terminal of the new normal, where I would be flying to Venice.

Read the full article.

01:59 PM

Memories of Cruise and Maritime Voyages from our writers

The cruise industry, having been buffeted six or more ways to Sunday during most of 2020, suffered its most high-profile casualty of the coronavirus pandemic this week as British operator Cruise and Maritime was plunged into administration.

All future bookings are cancelled, thousands of jobs are at risk of redundancy, and there is a whole in the UK cruise landscape.

Our cruise experts and travel writers share their memories of the line.

01:44 PM

An ode to Portugal’s islands

The Government is reassessing its Portugal travel policy on Monday. Madeira and the Azores could get the green light, and Mary Lussiana explains why you should go:

While mainland Portugal bucks the trend of globalisation, with food and wine, crafts and culture, flora and fauna extraordinarily different from north to south, east to west and all deeply rooted in their own Portuguese heritage, Madeira and the Azorean Islands go even further.

Once remote outposts of a maritime empire, the fertile islands of the former and the volcanic, moon-like, landscape of the latter, have evolved over time to produce their own, very idiosyncratic, spirit.

It is perhaps their independence and embracing of isolation from the rest of the world which has stood them in such good stead during the Covid-19 pandemic. Madeira has registered no deaths and only 90 cases and the Azores under 200 cases; both have strict entry rules for visitors.

Read the full article.

funchal, madeira - Getty
funchal, madeira – Getty

01:32 PM

Nepal to reopen borders in August

Welcome news for mountaineers: flights to Nepal will be allowed to resume on August 17.

The Himalayan country closed its airports in March, just before the start of peak tourist season, when hundreds of adventurous travellers fly in to tackle the challenge of climbing Mount Everest.

The lack of visitors has been hard on Nepal’s economy, with the tourism sector accounting for almost 10 per cent of the national GDP.

Officials are hopeful that the effects of the last few months will be offset by a strong autumn season, which normally sees the arrival of a third of Nepal’s visitors each year.

01:05 PM

EU lays down new hygiene rules for air travel

The EU’s member states have agreed on common hygiene standards for air travel,  the German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer has announced.

Passengers aged six and over must wear nose and mouth protection at airports and in transit, while airlines must guarantee a high fresh-air quota on board their planes and provide safety information in different languages.

They will not be required to leave middle seats empty in order to facilitate social distancing.

The aviation industry has previously expressed confusion over post-coronavirus health standards, with rules varying between countries.

However, while an agreement has been reached to standardise regulations, this has yet to be formally approved by the EU Council.

12:50 PM

Viking announces £39,000 round-the-world cruise for 2021

Viking Cruises has released details of a 136-day cruise around the world, due to set sail next year, with berths starting from $49,995 (around £39,380).

The Viking World Cruise, aboard the 930-passenger Viking Star, will depart Fort Lauderdale in Florida on Christmas Eve 2021.

It will call at 56 ports in 27 countries over the following fou
r months, with stops in Central and North America, Australia, Asia, the Middle East and Mediterranean, before finishing in London. 

The line’s chairman, Torstein Hagen, said: “This has been an unusual year for all travellers, but we remain focused on the future and are pleased to offer our guests a new destination-focused World Cruise that allows for extensive exploration in 2021-2022.”

12:35 PM

Tourists risk being refused entry into Greece after tracking code delays

British holidaymakers travelling to Greece face anxious waits and hefty fines after apparent issues with the country’s track and trace system meant some users were not receiving the necessary QR code to pass coronavirus controls, reports Hugh Morris.

Travellers are required to fill in a “passenger locator form” (PLF) 24 hours before arrival in Greece so they can receive a code to show authorities on arrival, either printed or on a smartphone.

But tourists have reported confusion as the code does not arrive until midnight “on the day of their scheduled arrival”, in Greek time. 

greece tourists - AFP
greece tourists – AFP

The UK Foreign Office (FCO) says travellers may need to show the code to their airline or be refused boarding but the Greek government has said some tourists may only receive the QR code to their phone “during their flight”. Greece is one of the UK’s confirmed “travel corridors”.

The FCO says British arrivals without the necessary code risk a fine of €500 or being refused entry at the Greek border. 

Read the full story.

12:19 PM

Free Covid-19 cover for Emirates passengers

Passengers who fly with Emirates will now receive free Covid-19 cover for the duration of their trip.

The Dubai-based airline has announced that it will cover medical expenses of up to €150,000 for any customer diagnosed with the virus while travelling.

It will also provide a living allowance of €100 per day for 14 days to cover the costs of quarantine.

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates Group chairman and chief executive, said: “Emirates is proud to lead the way in boosting confidence for international travel. We know people are yearning to fly as borders around the world gradually re-open, but they are seeking flexibility and assurances should something unforeseen happen during their travel.”

12:03 PM

Seal of approval for Dorset holidaymakers

Not everyone in the West Country is happy to see tourists back so soon after lockdown, but one Weymouth resident wasn’t put off by the crowds.

A grey seal known locally as ‘Sammy’ was spotted on the Dorset seaside resort’s beach yesterday, basking in the sun, swimming, and generally ignoring social distancing guidelines.

dorset seal - Getty
dorset seal – Getty
dorset seal - Getty
dorset seal – Getty

11:50 AM

Surge in ski holiday bookings as hotels trump chalets

The UK’s leading ski operator has revealed a rapid rise in the number of bookings for next winter as travel restrictions around the world are relaxed, writes Lucy Aspden.

Bookings with Crystal Ski Holidays increased by 125 per cent in the week ending July 12, following the introduction of travel corridors, which negate the requirement for travellers to quarantine on their return to the UK, and the lifting of the FCO’s advice against all non-essential travel to an extensive list of destinations.

Visits to the operator’s website are also up 35 per cent compared to June. “In the weeks since the relaxation of air travel we’ve had a whopping 125 per cent increase in customers booked with us – this is a great indicator that demand for ski holidays is still there,” said Chris Logan, Managing Director of Crystal Ski Holidays.

Read the full story.

11:37 AM

Scottish cruise line to start sailing again in August

Scottish small-ship cruise operator The Majestic Line has announced it will start sailing passengers again from August 29, reports Benjamin Parker.

The line, which is working to Scottish Government guidelines and has completed VisitScotland’s ‘Good to Go’ accreditation, will initially sail two of their four-vessel fleet on six-night itineraries.

Managing director Ken Grant said: “We have many guests who are very keen to cruise with us this year, and having looked long and hard at the options and how best we can confidently offer a cruise experience that is enjoyable and safe we feel that we are now in a position to cruise safely once again.”

Earlier this month Telegraph Travel spoke to Ken Grant, who also happens to be an experienced epidemiologist, about the state of the industry: ‘We can’t continue to live like this’ – meet the cruise line boss who’s also an epidemiologist

11:24 AM

Lack of British holidaymakers leaves Algarve struggling for survival

Business-owners in the Algarve are facing a bleak future as Britons continue to stay away.

Last year, more than a million people travelled from the UK to take their holidays in Portugal’s southernmost region, but with the coronavirus pandemic forcing nations to close their borders over previous months, that number has now dwindled to 92,000 throughout the whole of 2020 so far.

Even as international travel has started to resume, the UK government’s refusal to open an air bridge with Portugal – mainly due to concerns over high infection rates around Lisbon – has resulted in continued hardship for the people of the Algarve.

algarve - Getty
algarve – Getty

“It was very shocking. I don’t believe there’s any logic behind it,” UK-born pub landlord Samuel Tilley told Reuters. “There are some wonderful people here in the Algarve and beyond and I feel this decision by the British government really hurt them.”

The UK is now considering opening regional air bridges with parts of Portugal where the coronavirus risk is lower. Should the initiative go ahead, it is likely that the Algarve – which has reported a low infection rate throughout the pandemic – could see British tourists return in the near future.

11:02 AM

Tui customers told they can make free amends to their holiday bookings

Tui has announced a free holiday amends policy to provide “flexibility and protection to customers”, regardless of whether they have been affected by Covid-19.

Holidaymakers who have booked through the travel agent are now allowed to make one free change, including swapping destination and hotel, for new bookings made between now and September 30.

Richard Sofer, commercial director, of Tui UK & Ireland, said: “We are in extraordinary times with circumstances that are constantly evolving, and we know we need to be adaptable. We’ve listened to our customers and understand some are feeling apprehensive about travelling at the moment, but still want to book in a holiday to have something to look forward to.

“It’s been more than four months of not taking people on holidays, so we’re excited to offer more flexibility so our customers can make the most of what’s left of the summer.”

10:42 AM

Last Qantas 747 jet draws kangaroo in the sky

As Qantas waved farewell to its last Boeing 747 yesterday, the plane’s pilot paid tribute by drawing a ‘flying kangaroo’ – the airline’s logo – in the sky as it made its final journey from Australia.

10:28 AM

‘It’s like loading bombs’ – Venice reduces gondola capacity due to overweight tourists

The maximum number of passengers permitted on Venice’s famed gondolas is being reduced from six to five – and not for social distancing reasons. Tourists have, in recent years, become too fat, writes Annabel Fenwick-Elliott.

As tourism slowly picks up in the Floating City, the industry is bracing for the same problems it had pre-pandemic; one of which being overladen gondolas struggling to navigate water traffic. 

gondola venice - Getty
gondola venice – Getty

“Tourists are now overweight,” Raoul Roveratto, the president of the association of substitute gondoliers, told La Repubblica in no uncertain terms, likening those from “some countries” to “bombs” when they embark.

Read the full story.

10:14 AM

Princess Cruises cancels voyages until December

Princess Cruises has extended a halt in cruise operations until December 15, citing Covid-19’s progression as the main cause.

October sailings to and from Australia have been suspended, as have all autumn voyages in Asia, the Caribbean, California, Hawaii, Mexico, the Panama Canal, South America & Antarctica, Japan, and the South Pacific.

“We share in our guests’ disappointment in cancelling these cruises,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “We look forward to the days when we can return to travel and the happiness it brings to all who cruise.”

Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises

09:55 AM

Scottish tourist board spends £3 million to lure English visitors

VisitScotland has launched a £3m marketing campaign in a bid to attract tourists from south of the border.

With the message “Only in Scotland can travelling so little make such a big difference”, the tourism board hopes to aid its struggling travel industry after months of lockdown.

A series of advertisements will run on English television and radio over the next 10 weeks, and a partnership with Expedia and TripAdvisor will also carry the message to internet-users.

However, many English holidaymakers are wary of booking trips to Scotland following Nicola Sturgeon’s refusal last week to rule out quarantining visitors from the rest of the UK, with some Scottish hotels reporting a loss of bookings as a result.

09:36 AM

What can we learn from Amsterdam?

Much, it seems. Teresa Machan spent a weekend in the Dutch capital, and was happy to find that the ‘new normal’ there is not a great deal different from the old normal.

She says:

A couple of weekends ago I spent two whole days in Amsterdam on a high. Not because I was getting stoned, but because life there felt normal. I was high on the thrill of seeing shops open, cycle lanes populated and canal-side cafes busy. I was comforted by not seeing people in masks.

In terms of easing out of lockdown the Dutch have a good six weeks on Britain. Like here, time slots at museums must be booked in advance and the now-familiar post-Covid hand-washing and sanitising measures are very much in evidence – at visitor sites, shops, restaurants and in hotels. In an effort to reduce contact between housekeeping and guests my hotel was cleaning rooms only on request. Some shops restrict customer numbers and while customers generally stood aside to let another pass the Netherlands’ 1.5 metre distancing rule was barely in evidence.

Read the full story here.

amsterdam - iStock
amsterdam – iStock

09:18 AM

New face mask rules at Marriott and Hyatt

Two of the world’s largest hotel chains have announced that guests will be required to wear face masks in public areas “for the foreseeable future”.

Both Marriott and Hyatt, which together own more than 7,500 hotels worldwide, have introduced the new rules for all guests over the age of two.

From July 27, masks must be worn in hotel lobbies, bars, restaurants, gyms, and any other place where guests come into contact with one another.

Exemptions will apply for those who are eating or drinking, as well as anyone with a medical condition that renders it unsafe to wear a face mask.

09:06 AM

Passport application backlog reaches 400,000

Hundreds of thousands of Britons could have their holiday plans scuppered this summer as the Passport Office struggles with the sheer volume of applications.

With the number of staff reduced to allow social distancing, there are now more than 400,000 passport applications waiting to be processed, Home Office minister Baroness Williams has revealed.

“As part of its contingency arrangements, HM Passport Office is rapidly increasing its capacity for processing passport applications, in line with public health guidance, which will help to ensure it continues to meet the travel needs of its customers,” she added.

Some families have already had to cancel trips abroad after waiting up to four months for their new passports.

08:47 AM

British Airways launches new flight route to Jamaica from Gatwick

British Airways has handed Jamaica’s beleaguered tourism industry a major boost with its decision to launch a new route between London Gatwick and Montego Bay, the Caribbean island’s tourist capital, from October 13, 2020, reports Kaye Holland.

The flag carrier’s new flights will be operated by a three-cabin (World Traveller, World Traveller Plus and Club World) B777, and will depart on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with prices starting from £427 return.

Montego Bay, Jamaica - Getty
Montego Bay, Jamaica – Getty

Virgin Atlantic’s decision to stop its operations at Gatwick back in May, a sign of the chaos caused in the airline industry by Covid-19, dealt the tourism-dependent country a huge blow – putting an end to direct flights to the main Jamaican holiday airport.

Read the full story.

08:33 AM

California replaces New York as centre of US coronavirus crisis

California saw 12,807 new cases of Covid-19 in a single day earlier this week, taking the total number of infections to more than 413,576.

It means the West Coast state has now surpassed New York for the highest number of cases in the United States, although the latter still has the worst record for coronavirus-related deaths in the country.

The surging infection rate, which started in May after California reopened much of its economy, has prompted the state government to reinstate strict lockdown measures in a bid to regain control of the virus’s spread.

Bars and restaurants have been ordered to close, and there are severe restrictions on activities that involve close contact with others.

08:17 AM

What happened yesterday?

Good morning. Here’s a re-cap on yesterday’s main travel headlines

  • Spain insists Covid-19 cases are falling ahead of air bridges review

  • Government considering regional ‘air bridges’

  • Passport application backlog tops 400,000

  • Airlines seek testing plan to open up transatlantic travel

  • Ireland announces travel ‘green list,’ excluding Britain

  • Singapore tourism facing ‘existential crisis’

  • Japan launches domestic tourism campaign amid criticism

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